We hear in this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus’ command to love one another. The type of love that Jesus talks about is a sacrificial love that always puts the other person first. It is all about giving. Little wonder Therese of the child Jesus says that love worthy of the name involves some pain. This tells us more of the sacrificial aspect of love. It involves total self-giving – sacrifice of one’s personality, time and talent for the good of the other. Strong emotion and sentiments may accompany it but they are not in themselves love. They are simply modes of expressing love.
It is the commitment of the will that keep sacrificial love steadfast and unchanging. That is, the will to endure or persevere. This is the mark of a good and true Christian love. Hence, sacrificial love must be patient. It shows forbearance even under provocation. It is steadfast despite opposition, and difficulties.
Sacrificial love is sympathetic, considerate, gentle and kind. This love is not jealous. It works for the good of the other. This love is not arrogant, even when we think we are right and others are wrong. Sacrificial love is not selfish. Rather, it is an act of the will which seeks to serve and not be served.
Sacrificial love is a strong commitment to help and appreciate others unconditionally. It is always ready to give rather than to receive. Sacrificial love rejoices with the truth and never fails. It is that love that fears no accusation.
Sacrificial love is inclusive. The first reading reminds us that God does not have favourites. We are called to love others like that as well.
The thing that goes against all this and has an adverse effect on all of our relationships is if we start taking on the attitude “what is in this for me?” What is true for us in our personal relationships is also true when we talk about how we relate to each other as church. Let us pray for the grace to resist the temptation to be selfish and to love others as God loves.